Tableau Ambassador Spotlight - Rody Zakovich

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    This is the first in a series of posts - known as the Tableau Ambassador Spotlight, where the Community Team will be interviewing a Tableau Community Ambassador. And what better way to start it off than with Rody Zakovich


    Rody Zakovich.jpgYou probably know Rody from his extremely friendly attitude and his desire to help others. Rody is one of our newest Tableau Ambassadors, but has been a major contributor to the Tableau Community for some time now. He joined the Community in January of 2015, and has been a valuable asset ever since. Last week, I got on a call with him and learned more about his experiences with Tableau and the community. I learned that Rody identifies closely with Tableau, so much so that it's become a part of his identity over the last couple of years. Read on to see how our conversation transpired.



    Tracy: Where are you from?

    Rody: I currently live in Florida, but have lived in Massachusetts, and was born in Missouri, the “Show Me” state. Haha, guess I was born to use Tableau!


    Tracy: How long have you used Tableau?

    Rody: I’m coming up on 2 years. I used to be a recruiter at my company, and there was a need for a data analyst. They asked me if I would be interested in giving it a shot. I had no idea what I was doing, I had never done this before, I didn’t know anything about data, but I went for it and I started using Tableau right away. It was life-changing.


    Tracy: How do you use Tableau? At work? In your personal life?

    Rody: I use Tableau a lot at work. I use Tableau Public a lot at home, participating in the community, #MakeoverMondays that Andy Kriebel and Andy Cotgreave put together, as well as just exploring data sets myself. I like visualizing different things, looking at things from different angles.


    Tracy: Where do you find data for your personal projects?

    Rody: Sometimes I scrape it from websites using Jewel Loree just posted a link on Twitter that had close to 400 datasources, so I’ve been tracking through those.


    Tracy: What type of data interests you?

    Rody: Really all data. Anything interesting. Stuff that leads you down the “what happened here, what happened there” path. There's not so much a particular subject so much as I just want to see something interesting, something that has a story behind it.


    Tracy: What data sources do you typically use?

    Rody: I very rarely connect live. Using extracts, I get a lot better performance and get access to all of the Tableau functions.


    Tracy: What is one your favorite Tableau projects that you’ve ever worked on?

    Rody: At my company we have a big call center, and we have lots of sales agents. We put on sales contests so I get to be a lot more creative building dashboards that have themes. Right now we have a content going on with the Batman vs. Superman theme. These are fun because I get to integrate more artsy data visualization around them. I add  more fun components to it (maybe images) that get people who are necessarily interested in data a little more interested.


    Tracy: What is your favorite feature of Tableau?

    Rody: I LOVE LODs.


    Tracy: How do they compare to table calculations?

    Rody: Well they eliminate a lot of the complexity. Table calculations you need to worry about partitioning, addressing, restarting calcs. LODs have made that a lot easier. If I had to pick a second favorite – it would be dates. Tableau’s ability to manipulate


    Tracy: What do you want to learn more about?

    Rody: The Javascript API. I really think you can take things to the next level outside what’s the standard functionalities within Desktop. I’ve been studying, learning to integrate things like d3.js to really create some cool stuff.


    Tracy: What’s your biggest feature request?

    Rody: I’m more inclined to say the cross data source joining. The federated joins. Hopefully, with data extracts. That would be my biggest one. Of course, dynamic parameters would be after that.


    The cross data source joins is a really big one for me. Right now I have to do a lot of that in the back end and it takes a lot of time. It would open a lot of possibilities that are just not possible in Tableau right now.


    Tracy: How did you discover the Tableau Community?

    Rody: I was probably doing this (using Tableau) for about two months, and I got stuck – trying to get a table calc to work. So I went online and began searching and came across the forums. And it just blew my mind how much time and effort people were putting into answering questions. And how kind and welcoming everybody is. And it was very very shortly after that that I started to participate myself, answering questions that I had learned along the way.


    Tracy:What’s your favorite part about the Tableau Community?

    Rody: The community. The people. How everyone in the community that I’ve ever talked to or come across are all kind. They’re all welcoming. They all just want to share knowledge, and help people explore their data and tell their stories. It’s something that you don’t see in communities. You don’t see that type of passion for helping and sharing very often. It’s really awesome.


    Tracy: What advice do you have for new members of Tableau? Of the Community?

    Rody: Don’t be scared to post your work. Don’t be scared to ask a question. Nobody will ever say "that’s stupid" or "you should just quit." Nobody will say that. Everybody’s encouraging. So just don’t be scared to ask your question, or share what you think the correct answer is, or share you visualization online and ask for feedback. All you’re going to get is positive things. And all you’re going to do is learn from the experience.


    Tracy: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

    Rody: Same as above. Don’t be scared. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there for criticism, for feedback. The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunity you have to learn.


    Tracy: Anything else you want to share?

    Rody: I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for the community and for my employer, Tresta, giving me the opportunity to work with data and for us to be a data driven company. The point of where I’m at and where I’m going, it’s all thanks to the community, and people believing in me and supporting me. So I will continue doing everything I can to share that back and hopefully inspire others to do the same.


    To see Rody's profile and start following him - visit: Rody Zakovich

    To see him on Twitter - Rody Zakovich (@RodyZakovich) | Twitter

    Check out his work on Tableau Public:!/